Back to school: sewing ideas for kids

The bustle of a new year begins—it’s almost back-to-school time for kids of all ages! Of course they’ll need to be stocked up on staples like pens, pencils, and paper. But a special gift made by someone they love will mean so much when they’re heading into the transition of another school year.

Back-to-school projects from The New Handmade
Back-to-school projects from The New Handmade

There’s still plenty of time to send the little ones you know (or the big ones!) off to school with something unique, made by you. And if you’d like to give a child you know a special back-to-school gift, we’ve gathered ideas for sewing for kids from preschool all the way to college. (They may all be school kids, but that’s quite a span of ages!)

Let this roundup of sewing ideas for kids help you send those children packing—whether for the day or for the semester—with something that connects them to home. After all, it’s where their heart is.

P.S.: Don’t miss the link to our free t-shirt quilt pattern at the bottom of this post. Spotlighting kids’ t-shirts makes this quilt oh-so easy to personalize, and simple square-and-rectangle patchwork makes it oh-so easy to complete!


Make projects from Snuggle-and-Learn Quilts for Kids by Chris Lynn Kirsch

Touch Me, Feel Me, Read Me quilt
“Touch Me, Feel Me, Read Me” (above) This quilt is all about textures and shapes, which are great concepts for preschoolers to learn. The crop of fabrics available today makes this project an educational extravaganza! And don’t fear the appliqué: the letters are stitched using Chris’s easy “Repliqué” technique.

Counting on Buttons quilt
“Counting on Buttons” (above) 
This bright quilt uses a variety of colorful buttons. Have fun choosing the nine different button groups—or consider letting the child choose. (Note: make this for a child of an appropriate age, as buttons may be a choking danger for babies and toddlers.)

Rolled-Up Fun activity quilt
“Rolled-Up Fun”
 (above) Here’s a carry-along toy to keep kids entertained—and it doesn’t require batteries. This portable roll-up chalkboard can be personalized to fit a little learner’s special interests. Search for the perfect theme fabric and choose other fabrics to match.

Snuggle-and-Learn Quilts for Kids

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Elementary School

Make projects from Amigurumi On the Go by Ana Paula Rímoli

Many quilters have a “crossover craft.” Do you? If you know the basics of crochet and love playing with yarn fibers as much as fabric fibers, check out these adorable back-to-school projects.

Monkey crocheted backpack
“Monkey Backpack” (above)
Elementary schoolers may be considered “big kids,” but how many of them would say no to going to school each day with this favorite friend?

Crocheted Pencil Cases
“Pencil Cases” (above) These little bags whip up so fast, you can quickly crochet them in multiples. Stock the bags with freshly sharpened pencils and colorful erasers to make your gift even more fun to give.

Crocheted Cupcake and Ladybug Snack Bags
“Cupcake and Ladybug Snack Bags” (above) These sweet carry-alongs are big enough to hold an elementary-school sized lunch, making them a great alternative to paper bags. And they’re a lot cuter!

Amigurumi on the Go

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Middle School/Junior High

Make projects from Cool Girls Quilt by Linda Lum DeBono

Hip-Hop Case
“Hip-Hop Case” (above)
Tweenagers love music—why not stitch a quick cozy to help them protect theirs? Boys and girls alike can use this cool felted-wool case to buffer a music player’s bumpy ride while it’s in a purse or backpack. Think black-and-white or shades of blue for boys. (Also available as an ePattern.)

Cover Me Pretty Book Cover
“Cover Me Pretty Book Cover” (above)
Boring-looking books, be gone! Personalize this practical book cover with fabrics in different colors and prints. No matter the topic, your gift recipient will be inspired to open any book to page one. (Also available as an ePattern.)

Love quilt
“Love” quilt (above) 
 Shower a blossoming teenager going back to school with the happiness bursting from this color-splashed quilt. Start and finish it fast with simple squares and fusible appliqué. (Also available as an ePattern.)

Cool Girls Quilt

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High School

Make projects from Young at Heart Quilts by Julie Popa

School Spirit quilt
“School Spirit” (above) They’ve got spirit—how ’bout you? High-schoolers will love cuddling up in the stands with a two-color quilt featuring their favorite team’s colors. Complex-looking blocks pull one fake-out play: easy fusible appliqué. (Also available as an ePattern.)

Twist and Turn quilt
“Twist and Turn” (above)
High-school guys need quilts too! This masculine color scheme gets an exciting twist with windmill-style blocks that provide lots of movement. Blocks square up to 15″, so you can quickly stitch up a sizeable quilt. (Also available as an ePattern.)

Starlight quilt
“Starlight” (above) Swirly stars pair up with BIG blocks (16½" square!) in this lively quilt. Use fusible appliqué and quick-piecing techniques to stitch this vibrant design for a teen who craves a splash of color in her life. (Also available as an ePattern.)

Young at Heart Quilts

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Make projects from The New Handmade by Cassie Barden

Reading List Tote
“Reading List Tote” (above) Inspired by old library book bags, this is a quick-and-easy project to make in any dimension or fabric combination. Keep it simple with quilting cottons, or experiment with other fabrics like sturdy canvas and corduroy. (Also available as an ePattern.)

Dinner Party Grocery Bag
“Dinner Party Grocery Bag” (above) Is a college student you know taking care of his or her own meals for the first time? This roomy, versatile tote is ideal for groceries and much more. With a water-resistant oilcloth lining and securely stitched nylon straps, this bag can really be loaded up. (Also available as an ePattern.)

Novella Composition Book Cover
“Novella Composition Book Cover” (above) This fabric cover will help a college student organize not just her thoughts but also her pens, receipts, study notes, and more. Everything she needs can be kept together in style while she’s on the go. (Also available as an ePattern.)

The New Handmade

See more projects from The New Handmade

FREE T-SHIRT QUILT PATTERN! If a student you know has a collection of t-shirts she or he just can’t part with, you can stitch a one-of-a-kind memory with this easy t-shirt quilt pattern. Use up to 15 different shirts!

Free t-shirt quilt pattern
Simply sign in or register at our site to download this free t-shirt quilt pattern right now.

Will you be spoiling a student you know with a handmade gift? Tell us in the comments what you’re making!


3 Comments (leave a comment)


    —Maria Filomena on July 18, 2013
  • Lots of great ideas. I like the variety that appeals to a range of ages.

    —Kathy on July 18, 2013
  • Until I was 11, I carried my books in a satchel. It looked like fabric suitcase with a handle, fold over section on top to keep my books and a pad of paper inside with straps and buckles to close. There were pockets for pencils, rulers, crayons, etc. My next phase for carrying my books consisted of a binder filled with notebook paper and subject dividers and my books were evenly stacked on top. Girls carried purses; boys carried their pencils in their pockets.

    I see children today, hunched over with heavy book bags strapped to their backs and shoulders, and many are in the early stages of bad posture and/or the beginnings of arthritic problems. If I were to create anything; it would be a lighter, cushioned, but durable bag they could carry their books in their arms instead of on their backs.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on July 19, 2013

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